Support forums are now a requirement for almost any business that has customers. Most support forums are hard to use, unorganized and look terrible. To illustrate some of these issues, I’m going to pick on the Logitech forums, which are powered by Lithium (http://forums.logitech.com).
One of the first things customers do when looking for support in your forums is to search. If your search isn’t awesome or has any odd bugs, it will probably drive your customers crazy and they might give up and return the product instead of trying to fix it.
Here’s the Logitech search bar:
The Gather API enables websites, apps (desktop/smartphone), anything really, to fully interact with user generated content stored in Gather. The use cases are limitless. Here I’ll show how Gather’s search API can be integrated into a browser-based game to enhance the user experience.
Let’s assume you’ve built an amazing game that has revolutionized in-browser role-playing. It’s called Candide 3D. In the first six months after launch both the game and the community website have been wildly successful. The website community allows users and administrators to create game guides, post tips, answer questions, and more. The community content has become so valuable that your users are asking for a way to access the content from inside the game. The game-play experience, best played full-screen, is hindered when users must: minimize the game, run a community search, commit relevant results to memory, and finally, return the game to full-screen. Certainly not a great user experience. Good thing you chose to build your community with Gather!
Here’s an example screenshot of what we want to end up with:
With the release of Gather 0.1.7 we have focused on a few areas to reduce friction during installation.
We are introducing the concept of Maintenance Mode in Gather. During startup Gather will enter Maintenance Mode when database configuration is necessary.
For example, as long as you have a MySQL or PostgreSQL database available, the database portion of the installation can be skipped. Upon startup Gather will enter Maintenance Mode and will alert the user that additional configuration needs to be performed. By providing Gather with the super user credentials to your database it is able to create the necessary database schema and bootstrap itself.
Online communities and the types of interactions they foster are why the branded online community has become a critical marketing channel for many. According to Wikipedia, an online community is an online social network of individuals who interact with one another to pursue common interests. Among companies that have online communities, the reported benefits include improved customer support quality, a better understanding of customer and prospect needs, higher user engagement, a more loyal customer base, and better cross promotion effectiveness. Research from Forrester indicates 60% of those surveyed have a branded online community and 15% were planning to add one in the following 12 months (1). Why has a branded online community become such a strategic aspect of marketing? We asked clients, partners and industry leaders what are the primary drivers for their companies. Here we share the top five reasons why a branded online community is so important.
Online communities are becoming increasingly popular for building relationships with clients, users and prospects. But companies are finding the current technology lacking in areas like flexibility, extensibility, theming and search. This blog, one in a series covering forum-related terminology, is focused on faceted search.
What is Faceted Search?
Yonik Seeley, the creator of Solr – an open source enterprise search platform written in Java, gives an excellent description of faceted search in his post on the topic. “Faceted search is the dynamic clustering of items or search results into categories that let users drill into search results (or even skip searching entirely) by any value in any field. Each facet displayed also shows the number of hits within the search that match that category. Users can then “drill down” by applying specific constraints to the search results.”